Photo: Illustrative image for the 'FINN FAMILY' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'FINN FAMILY' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'FINN FAMILY' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'FINN FAMILY' page

Holidays at 'Spindrift' Railway Carriage on Bishopstone Beach c1930'S

By Debby Matthews

Ivy & Wallace Finn, with 4 daughters Isobel, Cynthia, Cora and Celia, had summer holidays from 1936 until 1939 in a converted railway carriage on Bishopstone beach. The following are extracts from Cora's written memories, lodged with the museum. My mother Celia visited the site recently and said that the carriage was on the concrete area to the west of Tidemills that used to have the Seaplane sheds on it. She remembers it well and was there the day war was declared in September 1939 - when they moved everything out to Chailey. They used to arrive by car, open the gate by Bishopstone Halt station. They would walk down through Tidemills to the front and then turn right towards Newhaven. There was quite a community of holiday cottages in that area.

It was one of a group and Mr and Mrs Smart received rent for it The Smart's was side on to the beach and was a double carriage with a big hall between which had a table tennis table in it. The Finn's was parallel to the beach with a front balcony/veranda for sitting on.

Cora remembers "We knew Mr & Mrs Smart very well and he obtained a very nice coach for us and it was altered at the depot, probably in London. [Mr Smart worked for Southern railways] ... It had a guards van, the three 3rd class coaches which we knocked into one for the kitchen. The next 2 were 2nd class and knocked into one for a bed/sitting room. The remaining two were 2nd class and were for bedrooms.

It was brought down the railway line and levered off onto concrete and wooden blocks. At the back an additional room was later added on.

The beach was all pebbles but quite pleasant. However when the cross channel boat came in in the afternoons it would cause a great wash. You could see the huge waves one row after another. The local people knew and moved up the beach but many a holiday maker got soaked."

This page was added by Debby Matthews on 03/06/2008.
Comments about this page

My 98 year old mother in law, then known as Pauline Coote also knew Mr Smart during the 1920s and 30s and occupied one of the railway carriages, called "Linga Longa" with her family for the whole summer. She went daily to Lewes Girls Grammer School, travelling by train from the Halt at Tide Mills until the holidays arrived. Another family called the Haine's also spent time there, travelling back daily to Lewes to work along with Mr Coote. We have recently taken Mrs Viner, as she is now known to visit the site and she fondly remembers many of the places and people that lived there during that time. Later in the 50-60s my wife remembers using a carriage on day trips, located nearer to the East Quay that had been King George Vs personal carriage and positioned near the beach by Mr Smart for him and his friends. She remembers its opulance, with green silk lining and lavish furniture, some of which is still held by members of the family, once it was broken up. My wife still walks the site almost daily with our dog and claims it to be one of her most favourite places.

By David Holland
On 30/08/2012

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